Seeing Beyond the End of the World
in Strange Days and Until the End of the World
by S Brent Plate and Tod Linafelt
1. See Sidney Perkowitz,
Empire of Light (New York: Henry Holt, 1996), pp. 191-3.
2. Levin, Jean Baudrillard (London: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 18.
3. This language of survival comes from Derrida, particularly in "Living
On/Border Lines," trans. James Hulbert, in Harld Bloom et al.,
Deconstruction and Criticism (New York: Continuum, 1979), pp. 75-176;
and Robert Detweiler "Overliving," Semeia 54 (1992).
4. See James Mills, "The Serious Implications of a 1971 Conversation
with Ronald Reagan." Quoted in Stephen O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 273 n.23.
5. "No Apocalypse, Not Now (full speed ahead, seven missiles, seven
missives)" diacritics 14 no. 2 (1984): p. 23. Similarly, on the
"rhetoric" of apocalypse, see Stephen D. O'Leary, Arguing
the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Response.
6. Derrida, "No Apocalypse, Not Now," p. 23.
8. Schell, The Fate of the Earth (New York: Knopf, 1982), p. 26.
9. There is a further similarity between the films in that Graeme Revell
did the music for each film. This is not in itself terribly important,
but when taken with the other similarities it begins to be clear that
there were some strong borrowings of Until the End of the World by the
Strange Days makers.
10. Wenders, The Logic of Images, trans. Michael Hofmann (Boston and
London: Faber and Faber, 1991), p. 108. Emphasis added.
11. The Illusion of the End, trans. Chris Turner (Stanford: Stanford
University Press, 1994), p. 4.
12. Biblical critic Christopher Rowland echoes this question and allows
us to connect it with the ancient genre of apocalypse when he states
that "An apocalypse offered a basis of hope in a world where God
seemed to be restrained, by unmasking the reality of what the past,
the present, and the future of human history were actually about"
(Revelation [London: Epworth, 1993], p. 20).
13. The desire for immediacy is apparent through this film. Jay David
Bolter and Richard Grusin begin a recent book with a survey of Strange
Days and suggest that the device used in the film "bypasses all
forms of mediation and transmits directly from one consciousness to
another" (Remediation: Understanding New Media [Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1999], p. 3).
14. Wenders, The Logic of Images, p. 108.
15. The Inoperative Community, trans., Peter Connor (Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 1991), p. 10.
16 . Ibid.
17. Levin, Jean Baudrillard, p. 19.
18. Cf. Kaja Silverman, "To look is to embed an image within a
constantly shifting matrix of unconscious memories." In The Threshold
of the Visible World (New York and London: Routledge, 1996), p. 3.
19. In light of film and literary history, the name "Farber"
is significant. Until the End of the World was made somewhat in response
to Volker Schlondorf's film, Voyager, itself a response to Wenders'
earlier, Paris, Texas. Schlondorf disliked the intense isolation of
Paris, Texas and set his characters off around the world. Voyager is
loosely based on a German novel published in 1959, Homo Faber by Max
Frisch. The main character in the novel and Schlondorf's film, Walter
Faber ("maker"), like the Max von Sydow character, is a scientist
who allows his technological interests to take priority over his human
relationships. Walter Faber too is a wanderer of sorts and the novel
(and film) itself is set on multiple continents. When Wenders sets his
characters around the world in Until the End, he shows an excessive
global chase, almost as if he wanted to "one-up" Schlondorf.
Wenders furthers the "one-upping" by naming his character
"Farber," which could quite well be a mixture of the Latin
"Faber" (maker) and the German "Farbe" (color),
therefore becoming "the color maker," i.e., the "image
20. Robert Horton, "Wim Wenders: on the road again," Film
Comment 33 no. 2 (March/April, 1997), p. 4.
21. Wenders might even be said to be working toward a deconstruction
of film (or at least a Hollywood style of film) when certain scenes
are embarassingly poorly acted, directed, and edited. Throughout Faraway,
so Close (1992) and Until the End, there are a number of scenes that
are so forced and faked that one begins to think Wenders is simply a
poor director. However, given the beauty of his earlier Wings of Desire or Tokyo Ga, it becomes necessary to re-view the poor scenes. What is
found is that the particularly bad scenes are almost always scenes involving
Hollywood-style violence and action, especially when guns or fighting
(always between men) come into the picture. Wenders simply shows the
absurdity of fight scenes, makes the male characters look pathetic rather
than the macho hero of Hollywood film.
22. The Evil Demon of Images, trans. P. Patton and P. Foss (Annandale,
Australia: Power Institute, 1987), p. 27. Quoted in Charles Levin, Jean
Baudrillard, p. 18.
23. Jean Baudrillard, p. 18.
24. See "Plato's Pharmacy," in Dissemination, trans., Barbara
Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).
25. "Overliving," p. 241.
26. But just as there are more images in this longer version, there
are more instances of the power of words. As Robert Horton points out,
with the five-hour version "There's more of the Sam Neill character,
who is now less an extraneous hanger-on and more an essential representative
of the Word" ("Wim Wenders," p. 4).
27. Francis Beare, The Gospel According to Matthew (Peabody, Massachusetts:
Hendrickson, 1987), p. 474.